Seventeen young researchers have recently been awarded a Rubicon Grant in the third and final round of 2023. The grant allows them to explore a project at an institute with a specific expertise.

The Rubicon Grant is intended for young researchers who wish to carry out research in a specific field and who can use the grant to visit the most suitable institute abroad. The funding – over €2.4 million in this round – comes from NWO and ZonMw. Below are five projects related to chemistry or life sciences. Click here for an overview of all projects.

Mapping determinants of phenotypic plasticity and diversity in colorectal cancer

Dr. J.M. Bugter –> Utrecht University –> Technische Universität München –> 24 months

Understanding shape-shifting cancer cells - Cancer cells possess the clever ability to change identity during metastasis to different organs or to evade therapy. The researcher aims to systematically disable tumour cell genes to identify those responsible for shape-shifting. Herein the researcher leverages unique genetic technologies that were developed in Munich. This study may reveal targets for novel therapies.

A better understanding of the flu: how can influenza virus affect your brain?

Dr. K.A.Y. Defourny –> Utrecht University –> Belgium –> VIB Center for Inflammation Research –> 24 months

Airway infections with viruses such as Influenza and SARS-CoV-2 can result in acute and chronic neurological symptoms and promote development of neurodegenerative disease. To explain these phenomena, this project will investigate if membrane vesicles produced by cells infected with Influenza enter the brain and affect both brain and lung function.

Safe drinking water: Removing iron and arsenic using naturally coated sand grains

Dr. E. Kruisdijk –> Delft University of Technology –> Switzerland –> EAWAG –> 24 months
Aquifers and drinking water filters contain sand grains with iron coatings, which are crucial for iron and arsenic removal from groundwater. In this research, iron coating formation is studied on grains using microfluidics, micro(spectro)scopy, and models. Obtained insights enable water quality forecasting, which is beneficial to provide safe drinking water.

Conductive, hybrid hydrogels with cell type specificity for precision electronic medicine

Dr. ir. L. Rijns –> Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) –> United States of America –> Stanford University –> 24 months

Wearable, electronic materials are very promising for monitoring physiological functions and for repairing diseased, neuronal tissue (e.g. Alzheimer). However, electronic materials are stiff and inflexible, making the communication with living tissue extremely difficult. The researcher will engineer new biomaterials to achieve a precise communication of electronic materials with living tissue.

Molecular and cellular determinants of the perivascular niche-to-wound fibroblasts transition in skin fibrosis via multi-omics and spatial biology

Dr. A. Tomasso –> Hubrecht Institute (KNAW) –> United States of America –> Stanford University –> 24 months

Every wound leaves a mark, but why scars linger remains a mystery. In the exploration of the enigmatic world of fibroblasts – the cellular architects – the researchers are determined to unveil the secrets of organ fibrosis and rewrite the healing script by targeting specific fibroblast types to promote scarless tissue repair.